Sam Charles

Communications Strategist

School of Engineering
Office: EME3251
Phone: 250.807.8136


Sam started at the Okanagan campus of the University of British in 2013 as a Senior Media Production Specialist with UBC Studios Okanagan.  After four years in that role, he transitioned into the Communications & Awards Coordinator (now Communications Strategist) role with the School of Engineering.

At the School of Engineering, he is responsible for developing strategic communication materials that highlight the innovative research and experiential learning on the Okanagan campus.  Sam is energized by telling the endlessly inspiring stories of the School’s researchers, students and staff.

With over twenty years of experience in communications, film, television and radio production, Sam is a seasoned professional communicator focused on generating dynamic and engaging content.

Sam has represented Canada three-times at Summer Universiades as Team Canada’s videographer documenting the Games for international audiences.  On Friday nights during the varsity season, he is the play-by-play voice (and technical advisor) for UBC Okanagan Heat basketball and volleyball webcasts on


Integrated strategic communications including social media; Develop, design, and maintain communications content; Media relations; Issues Management; Develop and prepare faculty awards nominations


The School of Engineering is pleased to announce that Dr. Rudolf Seethaler has been appointed MEng Coordinator.

In this newly created role, Dr. Seethaler will work closely with the School’s associate director of graduate studies, Richard Klukas, (and the graduate studies committee) to provide support and direction for the MEng program.  His responsibilities will include advising course selection for MEng students.

The course-based MEng program is designed for engineering graduates who want to advance their careers with further education. The program is offered for both full- and part-time students (part-time studies are open to domestic students only).  Students select courses in consultation with the program to suit career interests, and requires the approval of the program.

“This new role will provide our MEng students with a central point of contact,” says Mina Hoorfar, director of the School of Engineering. “Course selection is pivotal for student success in this program, and we are confident that under Dr. Seethaler’s tutelage, students will enjoy a fulfilling academic experience.”

The new appointment is effective immediately.

For more information about graduate studies at the School of Engineering, visit

Students from Northwestern Polytechnical University (also known as NPU; Chinese: 西北工业大学), in Xi’an, Shaanxi, China, recently visited UBC’s Okanagan campus to participate in an intensive research program led by School of Engineering faculty.

The enriched academic content including research activities was targeted at first and second-year NPU students from a variety of disciplines including engineering.  It also included cultural extra-curricular activities on and off campus.

Over 30 students took part in the program that spearheaded by Dr. Ray Taheri.

The summer program is a first step towards future collaborations between the two institutions.

In summer 2018, a group of School of Engineering faculty members led by Associate Dean, Prof. Sadiq and School Director, Prof. Hoorfar, visited NPU.  At the time, the two institutions agreed to future collaborations in three key areas:

  • Recruiting graduate students
  • Conducting research and securing funding
  • Visiting/exchange faculty members and students

One NPU student will commence graduate studies at the School of Engineering this Fall, and another summer research program is in the works for 2020.

Shannon Hohl is the 2019 University of British Columbia Okanagan’s Staff Award of Excellence recipient in the enhancing the UBC Experience category.

Hohl was nominated through two separate nomination packages; one prepared by graduate students and another by faculty and staff.

“Shannon’s greatest strength is her ability to interface with everyone, and graduate students in particular, in a cheerful, pleasant, respectful and patient manner,” says Richard Klukas, associate director of graduate studies at the School of Engineering.  Simply put, Klukas says “Shannon knows her job and does it well.”

According to the past president of the Engineering Graduate Student Society, Uchenna Anyaoha, Hohl’s patience, kindness, and resourcefulness were keys to her ability to contribute to the UBC experience.  “We (graduate students) commend the efforts she has shown with her office and also applaud the positive energy she brings to every conversation with her.”

The Staff Awards of Excellence celebrate outstanding contributions that enable UBC’s Okanagan campus to achieve its strategic imperatives, and to contribute to the commitment of creating an outstanding work environment.  There are five award categories including enhancing the UBC experience (customer service), leadership, sustainability, global citizenship and Okanagan campus spirit.

Hohl was formally recognized at the 2019 Deputy Vice-Principal’s Fall Town Hall on August 29, 2019 in a presentation led by Gillian Henderson, director of human resources.

For more information about the Staff Awards of Excellence visit

The School of Engineering is pleased to announce that Drs. Jannik Eikenaar and Sabine Weyand have been appointed as Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Advisors.

The appointments align with the School’s “Building for Tomorrow” 2025 Strategic Goals document that highlighted inclusivity and diversity as core attributes in creating a more welcoming environment for all to thrive.

Drs. Eikenaar and Weyand will be responsible for directing and supporting activities aimed at making the School of Engineering a welcoming and inclusive place for all.  The EDI Advisors will oversee four key pillars, including workplace environment, physical space, curriculum, and student experience, and assist in coordinating outreach activities.

“These EDI roles are essential for building and fostering a positive culture and environment for all our students, faculty, staff and collaborators,” explains Executive Associate Dean Rehan Sadiq.  “Our School has already successfully developed many initiatives required for ensuring inclusion for all, but more work is needed.”

Workplace environment and physical space will be supervised by Dr. Weyand.  Weyand, an instructor in mechanical engineering focused on biomedical engineering, says the intent is to build a culture that embraces inclusion for all.  “Through training and mentoring programs, the aim is to create an environment where under-represented groups can thrive.”  Along those lines, changes to the physical space of the School of Engineering will focus on more accessible and welcoming areas, signage and events.

Dr. Eikenaar will be responsible for the curriculum and student experience pillars.  According to Eikenaar, a technical communication instructor, Indigenizing the engineering curriculum is on-going while additional curricular initiatives are in the works.  “Ensuring that the curriculum is accessible to all our students is essential, and so is ensuring that our students feel included and heard.”  A student reporting system is being developed that will enable students to provide feedback directly to the EDI Advisors.

The EDI Advisors will work closely with Dr. Sheryl Staub-French, Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, in the Faculty of Applied Science.

For more information about Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives, you can reach out directly to Drs. Jannik Eikenaar or Sabine Weyand.

As wireless networks are being pushed to their limits through the increased use of social media applications, video streaming, and a multitude of connected devices such as sensors and vehicles, researchers at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Okanagan campus and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia are collaborating to optimize these networks through restructuring of wireless subnetworks.

According to Anas Chaaban, an assistant professor at the School of Engineering, their research is taking an unorthodox approach.  “The focus of this project is to take this optimization to a completely new level using interference as a friend, not a foe.”

Taking a three-prong approach, the researchers are developing rules to characterize network structures based on performance, creating optimization algorithms that use the performance rules and implementing techniques based on the previous two prongs.

By analyzing the origins of interference within networks, the researchers can better manage the interference and use it to achieve stronger inter-connectivity between channels.  Whether it be 3G, LTE or 5G, network performance is contingent on time, bandwidth and power.  Each wireless technology has used those attributes more efficiently. An updated treatment of network topology, one that is less conservative in terms of interference, can lead to an even more efficient utilization of these resources.

This is the right time for this research especially since future ultra-dense cellular networks will be interference-limited, which is the right playground for interference management schemes” explains Mohammed-Slim Alouini, professor at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and the other principal investigator on the project.”

The first step for the researchers is to build several subnetworks using transmitters, receivers and relays within particular channels and transmit powers.  From this small scale, they will analyze performance and use these subnetworks as building blocks in large networks.

The collaborating teams have complementary experience in this field with the KAUST team focused on resource allocation and optimization, and the UBC team experienced in network IT with a focus on interference management, relaying and multi-way communications.

“These types of collaborations are ideally-suited to take a thorough analysis of promising, future networks that may address the continuing strain on wireless networks around the world” says Chaaban.

The research is funded by the KAUST Office of Sponsored Research (OSR), within the Competitive Research Grants (CRG) Program.


The 2019 School of Engineering Executive Associate Dean Awards were handed out at a year-end event yesterday to recognize excellence within the School.

Awards ranged from Administrative and Technical Service Awards to Faculty Research and Teaching Awards.

“We are very lucky to have such a diverse, hard-working and passionate group at the School of Engineering,” explains Executive Associate Dean Rehan Sadiq.  “The sustained growth and success of the School is directly a result of the exceptional work done everyday by our faculty and staff.”

Exceptional Service Awards were presented to Kim Nordstrom in the technical category, Samantha Luckow in the administrative category (M&P & BCGEU) and Ayman Elnaggar and Ray Taheri in the faculty category.  Yang Cao and Dwayne Tannant both received honorary mentions in the faculty category as well.

Kenneth Chau and Sabine Weyand received the Executive Associate Dean’s Award for Teaching. Jonathan Holzman, who earlier this year received a Killam Teaching Prize, received an honorary mention.

Research Awards were presented to Zheng Liu and Dimitry Sediako.

In the Emerging Faculty Award, Sabine Weyand was recognized for Educational Leadership.

One faculty member and one staff member will be recognized later this summer with Faculty of Applied Science Dean’s Service Awards.  Those individuals will be announced shortly.

“We are proud of all of our faculty and staff,” says Sadiq, “they are the backbone of the School and their dedication continues to propel us towards continued success.”

Bridging interdisciplinary science and composite research, Mohammad Arjmand explores innovations in multifunctional polymer nanocomposites as the first Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) at the School of Engineering.  The official title of the Chair is Canada Research Chair in Advanced Materials and Polymer Engineering.

Polymers, often associated with plastics, provide researchers with flexible materials that can be used in a variety of applications from electronics and medical devices to military and information technology solutions.

By incorporating nano-scale materials inside polymers, researchers like Arjmand strive to find effective solutions to challenges facing a variety of industries.

“Polymer nanocomposites are beginning to replace metals that have long been the go-to material for transmission whether it be electricity or other types of signals” explains Arjmand.

Based on their affordability, weight and malleability, many industries see an upside to transitioning to polymer nanocomposites. Arjmand synthesizes and creates his own nano-scale materials, which differentiates him from other researchers in the field of nanocomposites who tend to outsource nano-scale materials.

The nano-scale materials developed by Dr. Arjmand have a dimension 1/1000 of human hair. When incorporated into polymers, forming nanocomposites, they render materials with outstanding physical properties, superior to metals.

“By controlling the development process from the concept stage, we control the nanocomposites electrical conductivity and electromagnetic properties” explains Arjmand.

Using nano-scale materials made of carbon and metals, Arjmand’s nanocomposites exceed the benchmarks established in electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and mechanical strength by materials that sectors such as automotive, aerospace, information technologies and health care have long relied upon.

Employing nano-scale materials and nanocomposites, Arjmand will also explore polymer capacitors for advanced electronics and develop advanced gas sensing technologies.

Learn more about new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at

More information about the Canada Research Chairs can be found at

New research currently underway at UBC Okanagan and Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM) aims to develop hybrid nancomposites for bone tissue regeneration literally from the ground up.

In an effort to build better and more functional biological tissues and organs, researchers have received funding to investigate improving the mechanical properties of hydrogels for tissue and organ regeneration.

“Gelatin is one of a number of hydrogels that is used to engineer tissue and organs but its soft mechanical properties make it difficult to maintain the 3D shape for culturing and differentiating cells in the long term,” explains Keekyoung Kim, an assistant professor at the School of Engineering

To address this issue, Kim and his collaborators (Sumi Siddiqua from Advanced Geomaterials Testing Lab at UBCO and and Il-Mo Kang from KIGAM) are investigating adding nanocomposites like graphene and carbon particles to the gelatin.  They are also analyzing the benefits of adding silicate clay nanoparticles.

“Clay nanoparticles are widely used in antacids, cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications, and are known for their biocompatibility,” says Kim.  “The clay we are testing is made up of Bentonite that is abundantly available in a number of regions in Korea; hence the funding from KIGAM.”

Recently, Dr. Kim’s group at the Advanced Biofabrication Laboratory at UBC has been developing new biomaterials for bioinks for 3D bioprinting, high-throughput systems for generating cell-laden microgels, and various types of 3D bioprinting systems. His research is focusing on the application of advanced engineering technologies and systems to help treat diseases and improve human health.

The two-year funding from the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources is valued at over 160-thousand dollars.

The School of Engineering’s class of 2019 crossed the stage and were conferred their degrees this afternoon.  Over 200 undergraduates and nearly 70 graduate students received their degrees at the convocation ceremony.  Of those graduates, 9 undergraduate students received their Minors in Computer Science and 2 received Management Minors.

Photo gallery of 2019 Awards Reception

Photo gallery of Convocation 2019

Full listing of undergraduate and graduate students who were scheduled to cross the stage to receive their degrees at Convocation 2019

218 Undergraduates

Civil 65
Electrical 48
Mechanical 105


68 Graduate Students

MASc Civil 12
MASc Electrical 13
MASc Mechanical 12
MEng Civil 5
MEng Electrical 3
MEng Mechanical 10
PhD Civil 8
PhD Electrical 1
PhD Mechanical 4


Graduates heard from UBC dignitaries during today’s convocation, and student speaker Jessica Rempel.  Rempel, a mechanical engineering graduate, talked about the challenges and successes she and her fellow graduates experienced during their time at the School of Engineering.  As an active member of the Okanagan campus, Rempel was recognized earlier in the day with the Dr. Gordon Springate Sr. Award for her contribution to the community outside of the program.

Each year, top students are recognized for their accomplishments during the past year.  Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia celebrates students who show great promise and achieve the highest academic standing in their discipline.  An overall certificate for highest academic standing within the School of Engineering’s Class of 2019 was awarded to Ethan McKoen.  McKeon also received the UBC Head of Class Gold Medal.  The medal is presented to the student with the highest GPA in the graduating class.

Eric Sandberg received the certificate for civil engineering, Joel Pfannschimdt for electrical engineering and Jesse Morales for mechanical engineering.  Morales was also awarded a gold medal from the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering for being the top graduating mechanical engineering student (the award is presented to the top mechanical engineering at each Canadian university).

This year’s Capstone Group 49 (Mike Bowes, Adam Campbell, Nico Volpe, Simon Marriott and Junal Sharma) received the Doug and Ruth Pearce Engineering Capstone Prize, presented in memory of Dr. Spiro Yannacopoulos.  The group was recognized for their project that including designing, developing and building a working prototype of a machine that assists in manufacturing vinyl stair nosings or caps using vinyl flooring planks.



The Formula SAE team representing UBC Okanagan made it to the final day of competition at this year’s FSAE event in Michigan.

After a journey that spanned nearly four-thousand kilometres, the UBCO Motorsports team brought their racecar (OG19) to the Michigan International Speedway earlier this month.  The competition hosted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is an engineering design showcase for undergraduate and graduate students promoting the development and construction of a single-seat racecar judged in a variety of categories including best overall package of design, construction, performance and cost.

The 2019 competition was the second for the UBC Okanagan team using their current platform (racecar) that was originally unveiled last summer in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The car had been substantially improved from that competition including a redesigned oil system, reduced overall weight, the addition of aerodynamic components, and adjustments to the cockpit.


Over four-days of competition, the team competes in static events such technical inspections, marketing presentations, and equipment testing.  The competition culminates with two-days of dynamic events that puts the vehicles through their paces on the racetrack.

Last year in Lincoln, the team experienced engine failure during one of the first judged events (noise inspection).  It took an extra twelve-hours of tweaking, but the 2019 edition of the racecar passed the test requiring no more than 103 dB while idling and 110 dB at high engine speeds.

“We needed to change some minor exhaust routing and adjusting our idle speed, but we were able to pass with flying colours,” explains team captain Stewart MacDonald.


Before the car entered the track, members of the team also participated in the marketing components of the competition where they provided judges with detailed overviews of the car’s specifications and performance.

With 119 teams registered for the event, the UBCO Motorsports team began the dynamic portion of the competition finishing 66th in the acceleration event.  The event is a 75- metres drag race; where the UBCO Motorsports team finished in a time of 5.2-seconds.

The team fell back a bit in the auto cross category, finishing the 2-lap course in 69.3-seconds for 84th position.  Their skid pad finish, highlighting how the car handled in the corners, came 68th in a time of 5.795-seconds.

According to Nathan Van Zyderveld, the team’s Powertrain lead, getting past the noise inspection was a crucial step.  “There are so many exceptional teams at these competitions, so maintaining and building upon our momentum is essential to future success.”

In the final category of the competition, the endurance race, all cars needed to complete 11-laps (22-kilometres course).  Historically, less than half of the teams that qualify for the event are able to complete it.

The UBCO car managed to complete 7-laps before experiencing an electrical short that blew the 100 Amp main fuse.

“Although our overall result wasn’t what we’d hoped, we’ll all look back fondly at these experiences,” says MacDonald.  “We are excited to apply the learnings from this competition to next year’s’ build and improve our standing at the next competition.”

To learn more about UBCO Motorsports visit